Ensuring Africa’s Youth Are Employable Graduates

By Mark Orpen, CEO at The Institute of People Development (IPD)

Further Education and Training (FET) should strive towards making graduates employable, creating a diverse workforce, and meeting the needs of the country’s economy.

To create employable graduates, a comparison must be drawn between work readiness and qualifications. Leaders of business and government need to provide Africa’s young with the opportunities to apply their skills and help them thrive in the changing world of work. This requires critical thinking and workplace integrated learning.

In developing a diverse workforce, the biggest driver for a higher level diversity strategy is the need to tap the creative, cultural, and communicative skills of employees to improve company policies, products and customer experiences. Employees must harness each other’s strengths, and implement organisational strategies to increase inclusivity, increasing the available pool of resources – networks, perspectives, styles, knowledge, and insights.

Strategies to increase awareness about workplace diversity include reducing prejudices and stereotypes while minimising miscommunications and building relationships with diverse others – contributing towards productivity and team cohesion.

To meet the country’s economic needs, an employable, skilled workforce is essential. With the newest unemployment statistic at 27.7 percent, and more than 60 percent of the graduates in South Africa being unemployed (or employed in a career not linked to what they studied) action must be taken.

The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s study into the Future of Jobs identified the top ten skills for both 2015 and 2020. These core skills entail a change in the approach to career choices, teaching and learning. While some countries have made significant strides in implementing programmes to empower their young people in this regard, others, including South Africa, are falling dangerously behind.